Founders of the Massachusetts Bible Society - 1809

The Massachusetts Bible Society began on July 6, 1809 and is an ecumenical, Christian organization dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. This blog lists brief biographies of our founders who gathered in the Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber on that historic day to sign the Charter founding MBS. Please visit our website:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rev. Edward Dorr Griffin, DD

A farmer’s son, Edward Dorr Griffin was born in East Haddam, CT on January 6, 1770, graduated from Yale in 1790 as the school’s first Phi Beta Kappa student. He then studied theology with Jonathan Edwards, son of the better-known theologian who became president of Union College. Rev. Griffin began ministry in Connecticut and was ordained in June, 1796 as pastor of the Congregational Church of New Hartford, where he held a series of revivals. He did the same in the church he accepted in 1801 in Newark, New Jersey, where the revivals would last for weeks at a time.

In 1808 he earned the D.D. degree at Union and early in 1809 accepted a call to the newly formed Andover Seminary in Massachusetts as a Professor of Rhetoric, a position he held until 1811. It was in that year that the newly established Park Street Church called Rev. Griffin to be their first pastor, where his Park Street Lectures gained international acclaim. He returned to his former church in Newark in 1817, and in 1821 was chosen as the President of Williams College, where he remained until 1836. At 6’3” he had an imposing presence and students who did not look him in the eye or who fell asleep during Sunday services were called out on the spot by name. Edward Dorr Griffin died on the eighth of November the next year in Newark, New Jersey.

One of the funeral orations for Rev. Griffin at Williams College, remembered his time at Park Street Church this way: “He felt that he was standing in the breach; a large portion of the community at a distance, felt so too, and he had their sympathy, while he wielded the force of a giant. Many who hated his doctrines, were drawn in by his eloquence, and it not infrequently happened, that those who’ went to scoff, remained to pray.’ As he was the only orthodox congregational clergyman in the city except one, his church was much resorted to by members of the legislature, and by strangers, and he thus became extensively known throughout this State, and indeed throughout the country.”

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